At Cosmos Media Day, Rocco Commisso touched on the state of soccer in the United States, openly expressing his thoughts that the United States had peaked in soccer in 1930 and the setup for today’s game kept lower league title winners from being rewarded. It also prevented teams from spending money on building their rosters when moving to MLS.
Rocco was very clear on his thoughts on the US national team, who currently sit in last place in World Cup qualifying and are set to host Honduras this week before traveling to Panama for a match on Sunday.
“Today, we do not have a national team that I am proud of.”
Commisso noted that the last time the United States national team had made the semifinal round of the biggest stage of the world’s game had been the 1930 World Cup, the inaugural tournament. There, the US walked away with third place after taking their group and losing to Argentina in the semis. According to Commisso, it had all been downhill from there.
“So here we are, 80 years later, and we still haven’t had a team, a professional team, a professional, national team that could go out and say ‘We’re the top ten, the top five.’ I mean, what kind of crap is that?”
“Why do we have a semifinalist in 1930 and not one since?”
“I’ll give you another statistic. There’s been all kinds of World Cups. You know the games America’s won since 1930, in the World Cup competition? Six games,” he said, holding up six fingers. “That’s one game every fourteen years; I did the math.”
The United States went without a single appearance in the World Cup after 1950 until 1990, also withdrawing from the 1938 Cup. But, the point stands that in the other nine Cups they have appeared in, only 6 of the 30 games they have played have been logged as wins.
“Everybody’s bragging what a great job we’re all doing with American soccer. No. We’re not doing a great job.”
Commisso faulted the domestic structure and the buy-in into the top division as a major part of the failure at the national team level, with MLS requiring both a stadium plan (and investment into it) and a massive expansion fee to enter the top division of American soccer, as opposed to it being earned via promotion/relegation like most other soccer leagues of the world.
“Did anyone see the Minneapolis game where they lost 7-1 [scoreline was actually 6-1]? This is exactly what I’m talking about. Because they paid $100M with another $150M for the stadium, Minneapolis got to the MLS, right? Well, the Cosmos won the championship. In other countries, all over Europe, South America, so on, the Cosmos should be moving up to the MLS, not Minneapolis. I think Minneapolis was the eighth-ranked team in the MLS [NASL] last year, out of twelve; we were number one.”
“Let me just say this, that all the teams that made investments in Europe, including the most recent ones: the Chinese, the Indonesians, the Americans, and England and so on, that they all understood how the game was played. Nobody guaranteed that, as a result of making a multi-hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, like the guys trying to buy Milan, that they need not get relegated tomorrow.”
He also noted, that despite pro/rel not being implemented here, at least one owner of New York MLS team had benefited from the system elsewhere.
“The guy that bought the Red Bulls, he also has a team in Germany,” said the Cosmos owner, referring to RB Leipzig, who currently sit in second place in the Bundesliga. “Correct me if I’m wrong, did they move from the third to the second to the first division? Am I right? So it worked out very well. Why can’t it work the same here?”
“Well my opinion, my very strong opinion, that’s probably the number one reason why American soccer has failed professionally in this country,” said the man who is now arguably one of the most distinct voices in open support of pro/rel.
Commisso was aware of how his messaging would most likely be received.
“I’m not ready to really delve into this, because I’m sure, in less than 24 hours, all the shotguns will be after me.”
He also made mention that while there were others who wanted to “shut him down” he would, eventually, have his say on what the future of the sport should be in this country.
“I could go in and in. I know a lot of stuff I want to talk about, but not today. There are a lot of people out there that still want to shut me down.”
“I’ll protect the team, I’ll protect my reputation, but sooner or later, I will have my say as to what I see as the future of American soccer; professional, American soccer in this country.”